Commonwealth’s ban on burning to remain in effect through April

Posted: April 9, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — A statewide burning ban will remain in effect through the end of the month.

The burn ban, which went into effect Feb. 15 and ends April 30, prohibits burning before 4 p.m. each day if the fire is in, or within 300 feet of woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials, according to a statement previously released by the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDF).

The VDF has classified today’s fire danger rating as Level 3 — the highest — meaning there’s a significant fire risk.

Burning debris is the leading cause of wildfires in the state. The law — first enacted in the 1940s — allows outside fires after 4 p.m. because winds usually calm down and the relative humidity levels increase. Both factors reduce the potential for a debris fire or any outdoor open air fire to escape control, according to information on the department’s website.

A VDF representative could not be reached for comment on the burn ban Monday.

A Clarke County dispatcher said Monday afternoon that the county hasn’t had many issues with people disobeying the burn ban and that typically there are few reports of outside fires before 4 p.m.

Staff in the Frederick County Fire Marshal’s Office couldn’t be reached for comment.

A violation of the law is a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. Those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as any damage caused to others’ property, according to the VDF.

Additional information on the burn ban is available online at www.dof.virginia.gov/info/faqs-burning.htm.

— Contact Matt Armstrong atmarmstrong@winchesterstar.com